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Prahlad Kakkar: The Ad- Hatter!
Prahlad Kakkar juggles many hats with elan. An aggressive corporate - ad guru, gastronome and restaurateur, cigar connoisseur, scuba diver, globe trotter or a celebrity who has become a ‘page three’ phenomenon. Of all the ad filmmakers in India presently, Kakkar works for the youngest brands in the market, Pepsi, Kit Kat, Nestle, Maggi Sauces and many more. He believes that to understand the youth, one has to be young himself.
The one thing Kakkar detests is a "boring script''. However, if he happens to come across one that can put a smile to his face, he crafts it into a memorable film. According to Kakkar, it's the human element in ad film that makes all the difference. Being able to pick up mannerisms and emotions are the key to a successful film, his idea is to be able to relate to human emotions.
He is against the use of technology for the sake of technology; and until it is vital to the script, Kakkar avoids it, since it has little or no value as per him.
Sporting his cowboy appearance with a degree of poise, Prahlad maintains his characteristic carefully disheveled look. His verve of non-conformism is in fact the core of his entire persona. Fondly referred to as the ‘madman’ of the ad world, Prahlad today happens to be one of the most creative ad film makers the country has.
Ideal of course given his fun loving personality. “Humor works best as people are so full of problems. If a commercial puts forward its product proposition surrounded with a bit of humour, not slapstick but slightly quirky, funny, insightful, it makes you smile, it touches your life,” explains Prahlad. 'Genesis', his own ad film making brand, was essentially characterized by a jovial verve that reflected in all his campaigns, as he set the stage for future trends in advertising film humor.
Prahlad started on his career in ads with Shyam Benegal, his batchmate in college. He worked for Benegal for a salary of Rs 300, assisting him and also setting up his office called 'The Khatmal Niwas', on account of the bugs and mosquitoes there. For 6 years, he worked this way, and then happened 'Genesis', his own ad agency, in 1978. With its humble beginnings, 'Genesis' barely provided for a living, but it was driven by fervent passion. Today, its portfolio includes Pepsi, Maggi, ITC, Nestle and Britannia, thereby making it a stalwart in this world.
Food fascinates him. Even his office sports a full-fledged kitchen. An impassioned foodie, Prahlad is experimental with his cuisine. While his favorite restaurant is 'India Jones', at 'The Oberoi', Mumbai, his craving for home- made north Indian cuisine takes him to 'Papa Pancho', which is a place he helped start in Bandra, Mumbai. He has also recently started a restaurant at the Imax Adlabs in Mumbai called 'Sarson Da Saga' which retains the home cooked flavour of Papa Pancho but still has its own identity.
A ‘Man of many hats’, Prahlad also happens to be a cigar connoisseur and manufactures a cigar brand called ‘Shergar’ in the Philippines, with the aim to match the standards of his personal favorite Cuban cigar brand ‘Monte Cristo’.
Despite a hectic work schedule, Kakkar manages a teahouse in Mumbai, runs a jazz club and trains people in scuba diving in his own school located in Lakshwadeep.
Another amazing discovery to his credit is the launch of beauty pageant winner and actress Aishwarya Rai Bacchhan in the world of Television, through his ad of Coca Cola. He was her neighbour then, and reportedly, even after this launch and fame that was given to her by Kakkar, Aishwarya did not invite him for her marriage. This brought about a stir in the media. Prahlad is also a sperm Donor, and has thereby helps many couples have a complete family!
Coming from a mixed parentage, Prahlad was born on the 24th of March, 1950. His father was a retired colonel from Pakistan and his mother was half burmese, half-marathi. He had a varied schooling, mostly because of getting ousted on account of philandrous behavior in some cases and bad performance in others. He is a dyslexic and did his graduation from Fergusson College in Pune.
So this is the making of this ad guru, whose life has surely been a series of excitement and pleasure!. Yes, the bells have started ringing in our heads - ting-ting-ti-ting.